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The Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows Ranked

While millions of people tune in to watch the Super Bowl, it’s the halftime show that makes people stay in front of their screens instead of getting up to get more snacks and drinks. The Super Bowl halftime show has become one of the biggest entertainment milestones in the world with more people watching the concert than at any other time during the year. The questions always are who is performing, what will the performer wear and what songs will they play. This article will take all of that into account and rank the best Super Bowl halftime shows.

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What was the best Super Bowl Halftime Show?

10. Michael Jackson (1993)

Say the name Michael Jackson and you’ll immediately get fans glued to their seats. The NFL whipped up what was then considered the biggest halftime show ever, starring. The late King of Pop whipped viewers into a frenzy with a medley of “Jam,” “Billie Jean” and “Black or White.” Jackson then cued up a snippet of “We Are the World” as the crowd turned over cards revealing drawings by the children of Los Angeles.

That was topped off with his theme of harmony, performing the song “Heal the World,” while surrounded by 3,500 youngsters, as a blow-up globe deployed on the 50-yard line.

9. Paul McCartney (2005)

Following the controversial halftime show of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake in what many called “Nipplegate”, the NFL chose to have Paul McCartney perform in 2005.
McCartney was the beginning of the NFL choosing classic rock legends over contemporary pop acts over the next five to 10 years.

While some were worried about it being stale, McCartney didn’t disappoint. Atop an X-shaped stage made of video projectors, the ex-Beatle first warmed up with “Drive My Car.” He then followed up with “Get Back,” before playing piano during a fireworks-laden rendition of Wings’ James Bond theme, “Live and Let Die.” Saving his best for last, McCartney signed off with “Hey Jude,” during which the 84,000 in attendance joined in for the iconic chorus.

8. Lady Gaga (2017)

Given her unusual aesthetic throughout her career, many wondered what bag of tricks Lady Gaga would pull out. Surprisingly she began with a medley of “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land” from the roof of the Super Bowl stadium. She then launched herself from up above onto the stage, singing dance-pop favorites “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” “Bad Romance” and more.

It was visually stunning and vocally impressive, which is incredibly hard to do. The end of her set is considered the best the show has ever seen. She mic dropped, caught a football toss and hopped off a staircase into nothingness. That’s how to be remembered.

7. Rolling Stones (2006)

It’s hard to believe that it took until 2006 for the Rolling Stones to perform the Super Bowl halftime show. In true Rolling Stones fashion, it was all about the music and the stage presence of Mick Jagger. The Rolling Stones kept it simple and classic with the exception of a gigantic version of the band’s iconic emblem — a pair of red lips with a tongue sticking out.

Mick Jagger made his presence known in the stadium and to the viewers at home. He swayed his hips and strutted around the stage as only he could. The band played just three songs, each one from start to finish: “Start Me Up,” “Rough Justice” and its biggest hit “Satisfaction.”

6. Beyoncé (2013)

Beyoncé was meant to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s not just the vocals and dance moves, but her stage presence. After her silhouette was lit on fire, Beyoncé emerged from a cloud of smoke and sang “Love on Top” and “Crazy in Love.” She also had a ton of different multimedia effects during the performance. After performing some of her biggest solo hits, she also sang with her former band, Destiny’s Child, performing “Bootylicious,” “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies.”

Beyoncé was also backed by dozens of female dancers and band members, not to mention a horn section and innovative animation screens with duplicates of her running wild.

5. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009)

Known for his long sets at concerts, Bruce Springsteen–aka The Boss–rocked out for 12 minutes with his band pumping out the hits. He directly told the viewers to step away from the dip and “put the chicken fingers down” before proceeding to rock Tampa. Though he’d turned down several prior invitations to perform the halftime show, Springsteen’s set was proof that it doesn’t matter the time.

The E Street Band rocked through a four-song set of crowd favorites, but the biggest hit came when New Jersey’s finest slammed into a TV camera during “10th Avenue Freeze Out.”

4. Madonna (2012)

Madonna was meant for the Super Bowl halftime show thanks to her decades of hits and fashion-forward wardrobe. Riding a huge buzz for her then-forthcoming album MDNA, Madonna charged into her Super Bowl XLVI halftime performance as the captain of a cheerleading squad that included LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and CeeLo Green. Amid Roman soldiers, Madonna entered the field on a golden throne and belted out hits from across the decades, including “Vogue”, before being joined by LMFAO for a “Party Rock Anthem”/”Sexy And I Know It” and a new take on her 2000 hit “Music.”

The most talked about moment came when M.I.A. and Minaj joined her for her brand new single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” Madge’s epic “Like a Prayer” finale, featuring CeeLo and a huge robed choir, ensured that the 12-minute concert ended with a focus on the music.

3. U2 (2002)

The raw emotion of Bono was felt throughout the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show. Less than five months after the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, U2 brought the heart-shaped stage from their Elevation tour to the field. The band kicked off with “Beautiful Day,” but it was its 9/11 tribute that captured the most attention.

As they played “Where the Streets Have No Name,” a scrolling backdrop featured the names of all of the victims who perished in the attacks. Bono finished the song by opening his jacket to reveal the stars and stripes in its lining.

2. Dr. Dre and Friends (2022)

What a lineup it was and a sort of coming out party for rap and hip-hop, marking the first time the genres were fully showcased in the Super Bowl halftime show. Dr. Dre and his cohorts took over SoFi Stadium with the set mimicking parts of Los Angeles. Previously announced performers Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem were joined by surprise guests 50 Cent (rapping “In Da Club” upside down) and Anderson.Paak, who banged away on the drums during Slim Shady’s “Lose Yourself.”

From Dr. Dre sitting at the piano to play “Still D.R.E.” to Snoop Dogg rapping to Blige’s booty-shaking “Family Affair” to Kendrick’s modern classic “Alright.” It was a halftime show that wasn’t just for current rap and hip-hop lovers, but those that were rocking out all the way back in the 90s. This was the first Super Bowl halftime show ever to win a top program Emmy — Outstanding Variety special (live).

  1. Prince (2007)

The 2007 Super Bowl halftime show was all Prince. While Prince performing was a curious choice to some, when he stepped on stage and that first note and guitar lick were heard, you knew he was going to bring down the house. He seamlessly worked in his biggest hits, but also had some fun with others as well.

The rocker powered through his own classics (“1999,” “Let’s Go Crazy”) and the classics of others (“Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower”). The explosive coda that made the whole performance what it was and is to this day is his performance of “Purple Rain,” which had the stadium waving their arms and howling as an actual downpour took place in Miami’s Dolphin Stadium.

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Where to Watch the Super Bowl Without Cable

Want to watch the 2023 season and then the Super Bowl? Then make sure you’re subscribed to Fubo, which gives you access to all nationally televised NFL games (CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN) as well as regional coverage during the season and the NFL RedZone Channel. CBS will air the 2024 Super Bowl.

Fubo is the leading sports-first live TV streaming platform, offering 100+ live TV channels and regional sports networks. The service includes a DVR as well as on-demand content and focuses on sports programming. Fubo is the only live TV streaming platform with every Nielsen-rated sports channel. Leveraging Fubo’s proprietary data and technology platform optimized for live TV and sports viewership, subscribers can engage with the content they are watching through interactive product features like FanView, an in-video experience showcasing live game, team and player stats and scores in real-time. Fubo was also the first virtual MVPD to enable simultaneous viewing on up to four screens (Multiview on Apple TV) and the first to stream in 4K HDR. The service was ranked #1 in Customer Satisfaction among Live TV Streaming Providers by J.D. Power (2022).

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Best Super Bowl Halftime FAQs

What is the most watched halftime show?

In 2023, Rihanna returned to the stage for the first time in more than five years to perform at Super Bowl LVII. The hype surrounding the performance led to 121.017 million viewers, meaning Rihanna’s performance narrowly surpassed Katy Perry’s 2015 performance as the most-watched halftime show of all-time.

What were the ratings for the halftime show in 2023?

Rihanna’s performance in 2023 was watched by 121.017 million viewers, the most all-time.

Who had the worst Super Bowl halftime show?

Many consider the 2011 Black Eyed Peas halftime show the worst. The Black Eyed Peas music didn’t have the longevity of many other performers, which caused the performance to feel rather stale.

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